There’s no better way to take the pulse of an Arabian city than to visit its souq. Colorful, cacophonous and bursting with character, these traditional markets are cornerstones of Arabian culture – and Dammam’s Share Al-Hob souq doesn’t disappoint.
Located in the heart of the city, Share Al-Hob is known locally as the Love Market for the jewelry shops that ring its outer streets. Here is where couples come to choose bridal and anniversary gifts from the glittering window displays, bargaining with the shopkeepers who hover in doorways and vie for attention. If jewelry tempts, go armed with the latest gold prices and be prepared to barter – it’s an integral part of the theater.
Beyond the gold stores, the majority of the souq’s action takes place down a central and recently regenerated street, where traders rub shoulders with locals. Wander in to be engulfed by the heady scents of spices and perfumes and to browse the hive of stalls proffering all sorts of goods, from handcrafted carpets and furniture, to well-priced ceramics, incense and fabrics. Make sure to explore the warren of alleyways that lead from the main street, where you’ll uncover independent stores hawking artwork, antiques and other souvenirs.
Share Al-Hob is open from 4pm but it’s at night that the market really comes alive. After dark, its streets pulse with performers, live-sketch artists and musicians whose songs mingle with the calls of street vendors hawking local delicacies. Falafel, shawarma and hot luqaimat - a fried dumpling drizzled with date syrup and sesame seeds - are just a few to try as you wind through the crowds and soak up the atmosphere.